It behoves the President to call bickering leaders to order

President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Environment CS Judi Wakhungu. [Standard]

Reports that four Cabinet secretaries were summoned to record statements at the DCI offices, Kiambu, are disturbing. The reason for the summonses is that the four are suspected to have held meetings in which they schemed against Deputy President William Ruto. It is not yet clear exactly how they schemed, but the accusations revolve around attempts to thwart, by whatever means, Ruto’s ambition to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.

For long, there has been talk about a memorandum of understanding between President Kenyatta and his deputy in which Uhuru was serve two five-year terms and hand over the mantle to Ruto in 2022, who would then serve for a similar period of time. But if such an arrangement existed, it flew in the face of democratic ideals that state citizens should elect their leaders through a popular vote every five-year cycle.

At some point, this claim generated so much heat that Ruto had to come out in the open to state that no one person or community owed him any political debt. But despite the disclaimer, what are clearly early campaigns have been going on. That disclaimer notwithstanding, again, some bad blood had already been created. So engrossed in the campaigns are some leaders that the opposing groups of Tangatanga (supporting Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid) and Kitaeleweka (opposing the bid) were formed. Surprisingly, the two groups are within the ruling Jubilee party.

No amount of entreaties from a seemingly frustrated President to the belligerent parties to put their campaign mode on hold have made any impact. In his second and final term, President Kenyatta is determined to leave a legacy that he hopes to achieve through the Big Four agenda. It is therefore easy to understand his frustration with leaders more concerned about an event three years in the future than service to those who elected them. In the process, the Big Four agenda is likely to suffer setbacks.

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So, when it comes to a point that members of the Executive are under suspicion for plotting against the second most powerful man in the country, questions arise on the cohesiveness of the Government elected to deliver services to citizens as a unit. It is in the public domain that Jubilee has been undergoing a certain level of internal strife following, especially, the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Kenyatta and his erstwhile opponent Raila Odinga. While the deed cooled down simmering tension after the contested 2017 General Election, it succeeded in throwing Jubilee into a spin from which it seems unable to recover.

But with matters getting out of hand, President Kenyatta must come out of his comfort zone and call his troops to order. The level of dysfunctionality in his Government is worrying. A Government deemed to be feeding on itself cannot inspire confidence in a public that looks up to it to offer solutions to their myriad problems; a result of misgovernance that assail it day in, day out. In particular, rampant corruption has made it impossible for citizens to get value for their taxes. It is not in the interest of the country, and that of Ruto and Uhuru, for the public to believe there is an irredeemable fallout; not after the warmth the duo exuded in its formative years, wearing matching suits and ties and always appearing in public together.

Calls for national unity stand threatened when leaders or a community are depicted as malicious; when leaders malign and ridicule each other in public, and when it seems the President and his deputy - each supporting a faction within their party - are working at cross-purposes. If there is a problem within Jubilee, and by extension the Government, Uhuru should call a meeting and sort it out.

Allowing the present situation to further deteriorate risks putting him down in history as the president under whose steerage the country disintegrated completely. That would depict him as a visionless leader who lost focus all too easily. But those who know the President understand he is committed to making Kenya a better place. If he doesn’t stand up to forces ranged against his leadership, his legacy will be destroyed.

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Uhuru KenyattaEnvironment CS Judi WakhunguDCIPresident Uhuru Kenyatta2022